Brian Paglia, email@example.com
The last time Jonesboro encountered a team that put 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5, 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-10 on the floor, the Cardinals came up short.
That’s the glaring advantage Eagle’s Landing will have going into the Golden Eagles’ game at No. 9-ranked Jonesboro at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The Cardinals (9-3) don’t have the collection of size to match up with small forward Eric Wortham (6-foot-5), power forward Chris Davenport (6-foot-7), small forward Jordan Session (6-foot-8) and center Desmond Ringer (6-foot-10). Even Eagle’s Landing shooting guard Trevin Joseph (6-foot-4) will have several inches on his defender.
That’s too tall an order for Jonesboro.
Let’s be clear, though — this won’t be March 7 all over again. Jonesboro was no match for a Miller Grove team with Tony Parker (6-foot-9 center now at UCLA) and Brandon Morris (6-foot-7 forward now at Georgia) in a 70-49 loss in the Class AAAA semifinals. The Cardinals’ only presence inside, 6-foot-8 center Chukedubem “Duby” Okeke, wasn’t a factor.
Okeke is certain to be improved. He was considered raw last season as simply a dunk and block waiting to happen. The Winthrop signee should be at least medium well by now.
Jonesboro’s cast of guards — Daniel Peace, Patrick Petty and Cameron Sutton — share something in common with Eagle’s Landing’s core of Isaiah Dennis, Wortham and Ringer; they’ve been to back-to-back semifinals, too.
And the Cardinals already have solid wins against Greater Atlanta Christian, Rockdale County and Tucker.
But the Cardinals haven’t been overwhelmed by size this season like they will Saturday.
These forwards for Eagle’s Landing aren’t tree trunks either, stiff and solitary just taking up space. Okeke will recognize a bit of Parker’s game in Ringer. Davenport’s athleticism will remind Jonesboro of Morris. Maybe that familiarity can give the Cardinals some comfort.
But what can they do with Wortham, who can play four positions, shoot from the outside, rebound well and make good passes?
What will they do when Session hits the floor, flying up for rebounds and blocks and stretching Jonesboro’s defense with the ability — and eagerness — to shoot from outside?
They’ll have to wait until mid-February to hope for a rematch in the Region 4-AAAA championship game.
Brian Paglia covers sports for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter? Follow him @BrianPaglia.